Hamburg skipper Rafael van der Vaart has admitted that he and his team-mates were gripped with fear during a fan protest at the weekend.
HSV have dropped into the Bundesliga's relegation zone after a run of six straight defeats and, following Saturday's 3-0 home loss to Hertha Berlin, around 300 supporters waited for the players to leave the stadium to pelt them with missiles and shower them with abusive chants.
Van der Vaart has questioned the thinking behind the fans' actions while at the same time admitting that his side's performances have not been up to scratch of late.
"Attacking players is not the point, not at all," he told Bild. "We players were afraid of the fans. This is particularly difficult for our younger players.
"I've been playing badly, we've all been playing badly, but we aren't doing it on purpose. We must try and reach a turning point on the pitch."